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Know the West

'People are important'


Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

Frank Carroll works for the Potlatch Corporation in Lewiston, Idaho, which uses the Snake River waterway to barge some of its paper and wood products to Portland and beyond. Before working for Potlatch, he worked on Idaho's Boise National Forest.

"I don't like simple answers to complex problems. Breaching the dams is not a small deal. A whole social and economic community has grown up around these dams. This is a harsh place to live, and in a way the government made a treaty with the people out here when it built the dams.

"Why start with a $1 billion solution (the cost of breaching) when there are a whole lot of $5 solutions? Why don't we start by pulling the hooks, nets and birds out of the water?

"Now the federal government has handed us a great big basket full of options, but it has said nary a word about what it is going to do to save salmon. The discussion has become more confusing and volatile than ever. Frankly, I feel vulnerable.

"Fishermen on the coast are threatening to sue the government if it doesn't take the dams out, and groups like Idaho Rivers United are running to Pocatello (Idaho) to tell farmers that if the dams don't go, then their water will be taken from them. That's not obvious at all.

"The question is, with all of these options before us, can we agree on a principle that says people are important, that sustainable communities count?"